Tech + Data

The End of Work as We Know It

Three charts that explain what’s happening with jobs and automation.

Will we soon have to figure out what to do with all our leisure time, as the likes of utopians (and John Maynard Keynes) have long predicted?

Some labor economists have estimated that nearly one-half of all jobs in the United States (and likely other advanced economies) are at risk of being displaced by technology or algorithms within the next two decades. The World Economic Forum expects automation to result in the loss of at least 5 million jobs globally by 2020.

Others are less pessimistic. It is unlikely, they argue, that entire occupations will be eliminated. Some tasks within an occupation may change, but then that has been going on for a long time already. Therefore, a recent OECD brief suggests, “a better approach to analyzing the number of jobs at risk of automation is to analyze the task content of individual jobs instead of the average task content of all jobs in each occupation.”

Image: Severino Ramos de Andrade, a cane cutter for over 35 years, like many other employees of his company worries about losing his job due to automization of the Moema mills. 01 July 2007. Orindiúva, Brazil. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

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